"I ceased in the year 1764 to believe that one can convince one's opponents with arguments printed in books. It is not to do that, therefore, that I have taken up my pen, but merely so as to annoy them, and to bestow strength and courage on those on our own side, and to make it known to the others that they have not convinced us."
"Nothing can contribute more to peace of soul than the lack of any opinion whatever."
"He traveled through Northeim to Einbeck and from there through Mlle P. to Hanover."
"With my pen in hand I have successfully stormed bulwarks from which others armed with sword and excommunication have been repulsed."
"Proposal: in a cold winter why not burn books?"
"Truth will find a publisher at any time, complaisance usually only for a year. That is why when you write you should always do so with courage and candor."
"I forget most of what I read, just as I do most of what I have eaten, but I know that both contribute no less to the conservation of my mind and my body on that account."
"It is almost impossible to bear the torch of truth through a crowd without singeing somebody's beard."
"Not only did he not believe in ghosts, he wasn't even afraid of them.""We have the often thoughtless respect accorded ancient laws, ancient usages, and ancient religion to thank for all the evil in the world."
"The world offers us correction more often than consolation."
"Since this life is no more than an evanescent point of time, I find it incomprehensible that the state of unending bliss and glory does not begin at once."
"There are people with so little courage to assert anything that they dare not say there is a cold wind blowing, however much they may feel it, unless they have first heard that other people have said it."
“I have just now come from a party where I was its life and soul; witticisms streamed from my lips, everyone laughed and admired me, but I went away - yes, the dash should be as long as the radius of the earth’s orbit ————————— and wanted to shoot myself.”
I am aware that there are writers who successfully avoid ever having to write at all. Whatever creative energies they may possess have been completely absorbed by displacement activities. These activities often include dressing, sounding and standing (if not drinking – in fact, usually drinking) like an author and so these individuals can seem far more convincing as artists of the well-turned phrase than many people who actually have been published. When I was starting to write, I found this type very confusing. Indoors, I was bewildered by both writing and not writing. I didn't know how to say what I wanted to, or if I really wanted me to, or if anyone else wanted me to. Out in the world, here were these amazing excuses to never bother about such things again. They were a temptation. But I did realise that they were also a horrible, horrible dead end.
"[The average American] conceived of a socialist, when he considerd him at all, as a mysterious type of desperado, reputed to infest the dark places of continental Europe and engaged with his fellows in a conspiracy as monstrous as it was futile, against civilization and all that it implied."
“The poet’s sphere of action, if he has a serious attitude toward his
work, is not the present, by which I mean the current state of
socio-political and scientific knowledge, but reality, man’s
stubborn dialogue with the concrete reality surrounding him, with this
stool, with that person, with this time of day—the cultivation of the
vanishing capacity for contemplation.”